We have all had that moment…the moment where our kid asks us a question we weren’t expecting and are difficult to answer. They may be a question that is embarrassing (like Sex or sex related topics), they could be deep questions (like why is there evil in the world), or they could be topics you don’t want to cover about your personal life (like why did you and dad get divorced)
I had one of those instances the other day. I listen to Rick and Bubba in the mornings on the way to drop the boys off at school most mornings. During their show, there will be a Fox News update. This particular morning the Fox News anchor was discussing DACA and illegal immigration. If you know Henry then you know that he doesn’t miss much and because he doesn’t miss much, he wanted to discuss what the host was talking about. Now, this isn’t your everyday conversation with an 8 year old. I was faced with a choice; to either blow him off with a short or non answer or to attempt to give him a well thought out answer. I have to admit that I wanted to take the easy way out. I rationalized with myself that we only live 2 blocks from the school and I wouldn’t have time to answer his question. I was tired and was only on my 2nd cup of coffee (yes, I drink more than 2 cups each day. When you give up Mountain Dew, you have to get your caffeine somewhere). Because of this experience, I wanted to write about answering your kids difficult questions. Now, you may be saying, “Bryan, you never said what you did to answer Henry’s question?” You are correct, but I’ll tell you what I did in the discussion below.
Pray about it
The first thing I did was say a quick prayer for wisdom and patience. The wisdom part probably makes sense to you, but you may be wondering why I prayed for patience. I did this for 2 reasons: 1) Henry asks lots of questions and I didn’t want to be the dad who was parked in the drop off line at Holly Hill Elementary holding up the line while I discussed DACA and immigration with my son. I wanted to do a good job of answering his question in a patient and kind way, but also in a way he understood 2) I know myself. I want to talk about things that interest me. I did not want to talk about DACA on the way to school that morning. I wanted to drink my coffee and pray for my boys while we drove the 2 blocks to school, thus the need for patience. The wisdom part of the equation comes in because God can an incredibly better job of answering that question through me than I can ever do on my own.
Be Biblical About it
Now, you may be wondering what illegal immigration has to do with the Bible. Actually, there is a lot in the Bible dealing with immigration. Check out Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 23:35, Deuteronomy 27:19, Ezekial 47:22, and Hebrews 13:2
You may be thinking that your kid wouldn’t ask about immigration. Well, mine did and I needed to give him an answer that wasn’t just my opinion, but was rooted in Scripture. I shared one verse with him in the car and told him we would continue our discussion during our devotion at bed time. I made sure I had done some study (maybe 5 minutes worth) during the day and I was ready at his bedtime to conclude out discussion.
I want you to think about the difficult questions that your kid has asked. Maybe it was about sex, money, divorce, suicide, dating, addiction, relationships, etc. The list can go on and on, but the central premise is that they have asked you something that you were surprised and worried about answering. I would encourage you with this. Get in your bible and seek the answers. There may not be a specific answer to your question, such as when student specifically ask me about legalizing marijuana. The Bible doesn’t mention marijuana, but it does talk about being sober minded. If you don’t know where to look I would encourage you to do three things
- Make an effort to study and seek the answer in the Bible. I promise there is timeless wisdom there.
- Ask God to direct you where to look.
- No matter what the question is, point your kid back to Jesus and his saving Grace. The Good News of Jesus can be folded into any discussion of difficult questions with your kid.
Shun Fear and Awkwardness
Listen, we all know that talking with your teenager about sex is not something thats on our top 10 list of things to do. If we are being honest, it’s probably not even on our radar that day, but when the difficult question rolls in we are called to answer. Deuteronomy isn’t exactly the book you would think about when discussed the fear and awkwardness, but it has 2 awesome passages about what it means to shun fear and awkwardness as a parent. First, Deuteronomy 31:8
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Second, Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
These verses should bring you great comfort. God knew that parenting wasn’t easy. He knew you would be asked difficult questions by your kids. He knew you would be afraid of answering the wrong way or even having to expose your own inadequacies to your child. He also knew that He is a timeless answer to all those questions. He continues to prepare you as a parent. He has gone before you, so do not be afraid. He has given you the answer and has given you the command as parents to teach them to your children throughout their lives. You will have these discussions when you are in your houses at the dinner table, when you are driving in the car on the way to school, and when you are getting them ready for bed.
We, as parents, need to be constantly in the Word of God and connected to Him in prayer to be ready when difficult questions arise. Even though Paul was writing these words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to help instruct him as a young pastor I think they are fitting words for us as parents to be ready at all times to speak words of Life to our children with patience and teaching so that we can see them grow more like Christ each and every day.
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.